Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth.
  • noun Any of various insect larvae similar to those of the butterfly or moth.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The larva of an Australian lymantriid moth, Teara melanosticta, which forms in columns like the European Cnethocampa processionea.
  • noun Properly, the larva of a lepidopterous insect, but also applied to the larvæ of other insects, such as members of the family Tenthredinidœ, or saw-flies.
  • noun A cockchafer.
  • noun An envious person who does mischief without provocation.
  • noun One who preys upon the substance of another; an extortioner.
  • noun The popular name of plants of the genus Scorpiurus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) The larval state of a butterfly or any lepidopterous insect; sometimes, but less commonly, the larval state of other insects, as the sawflies, which are also called false caterpillars. The true caterpillars have three pairs of true legs, and several pairs of abdominal fleshy legs (prolegs) armed with hooks. Some are hairy, others naked. They usually feed on leaves, fruit, and succulent vegetables, being often very destructive, Many of them are popularly called worms, as the cutworm, cankerworm, army worm, cotton worm, silkworm.
  • noun (Bot.) A plant of the genus Scorpiurus, with pods resembling caterpillars.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a bird belonging to the family of Shrikes, which feeds on caterpillars. The name is also given to several other birds.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any species of beetles of the genus Callosoma and other allied genera of the family Carabidæ which feed habitually upon caterpillars.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The larva of a butterfly or moth; leafworm.
  • noun A vehicle with a caterpillar track; a crawler.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a large tracked vehicle that is propelled by two endless metal belts; frequently used for moving earth in construction and farm work
  • noun a wormlike and often brightly colored and hairy or spiny larva of a butterfly or moth

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English catirpel, catirpeller, probably alteration of Old North French *catepelose : cate, cat (from Latin cattus) + pelose, hairy (from Latin pilōsus; see pilose).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English catirpel, catirpeller, probably from Old Northern French catepelose (Modern French chat + pileux, "hairy cat"), from Late Latin cattus + pilōsus.

Examples

  • The second time I was onstage, I misspelled the word caterpillar and soaked a perfectly good purple skirt with my own urine.

    I'm Perfect, You're Doomed

  • The love of a bird for a caterpillar is a tenuous and passing attachment next to the bond between man and power.

    The Ugly Truth About Government « Isegoria

  • On one of the few remaining green leaves a caterpillar is feeding, not with the voracious fervour of the newly hatched but with slow deliberation, as if forcing down a few final mouthfuls.

    Country diary: South Uist

  • Plants have some pretty impressive defenses, including the ability to swiftly produce volatile chemicals to attract "large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat."

    Rick Astley in a box (link roundup)

  • Moves in caterpillar fashion leaving straight deep track in the sand.

    Archive 2008-04-13

  • Moves in caterpillar fashion leaving straight deep track in the sand.

    Oily Snake Plays His Toxic Game

  • Alice’s meeting with the caterpillar is represented entirely by an extended bass clarinet solo with the unsung lyrics projected onto the stage.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • Alice’s meeting with the caterpillar is represented entirely by an extended bass clarinet solo with the unsung lyrics projected onto the stage.

    Eat Me

  • The slap and the caterpillar were the worst aside from waterboarding.

    Axelrod: Obama "thought very long and hard about" about opening up the CIA interrogation memos.

  • But if they come across a social parasite, they act as if the caterpillar is a lost larva from own colony.

    Parasite Rex

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Is a caterpillar ticklish?

    Well, it's always my belief

    That he giggles, as he wiggles

    Across a hairy leaf.

    - Monica Shannon, 'Only My Opinion'.

    November 8, 2008